The readings this week provide an intersection of media, news, and conflict and highlight the importance of how information (written, oral, film and photography) can shape how a story about war is told. To be fair this week in my tourism class, we read about the relationship between tourism and terrorism. There was one particular article by Michael Grosspietsch, entitled “Can Tourism Provoke Terrorism?” that was particularly thought provoking and correlates to the notion of spinning information to sensationalize information. Grosspietsch argues that tourism development is perceived as threatening Islamic culture and traditions and not offering any benefits to local people. My question is why is it that tourism development is assumed to only create an intense resentment within Islamic cultures? Similarly, Robin Brown’s article, “Spinning the War: Political Communications, Information Operations, and Public Diplomacy in the War on Terrorism” illuminates that the day after 9/11/2001 the type of diction used by the media already used language to conclude that there was an attack and could lead to the declaration of war against US enemies. Therein lie areas of contention. I dislike the way Islam and Islamic Fundamentalism are lumped together by the media. While Brown writes that the US immediately emphasized that ‘Islam is peace’, the media framed the story, so as to reflect a negative connotation to be associated with Islam as a whole. Not only does this affect international politics but it also affects people on a grassroots level, both in the US and in the Middle East, to create perceptions about the each other as the “other”.
In an ideal world, there would be objective news- straight facts and no spin. But that is not way it is, so consumers of media, particularly of media relating to international conflict, must holistically evaluate each news story for its strengths and weaknesses. Being careless with how a story is framed could have dynamic implications, not just for the US, but other entities in the international system. Globalization of information is powerful as we have read, but what is scarier about its power is if the information that is being globalized is massively biased. These days, the average person (with access to the global media system) holds truth to what is being reported to them with little hesitation particularly because more and more information is at the click of a button. This is exemplified through Hansen’s chapter when she argues that new ICTs are undermining traditional diplomacy. In conclusion, we must be vigilant in analyzing media critically because the globalization of flows of information is only going to exacerbate this problem.